Defeats in the kitchen (or popovers, why do you mock me?)

What foods never turn out right when you attempt to make them. I can’t make popovers pop, no matter what I do. My latest failure was this recipe, which I followed faithfully. I’ve tried many others, but each one ends in perfectly browned, inch high defeat.


Al Sicherman used to write a food column for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and had a long-running series of exchanges about why a colleagues popovers wouldn’t pop. I believe the issue was that the eggs were not fresh enough. Perhaps worth a try.


Did you preheat the pan and fat they were baked in? A popover is pretty similar to a Yorkshire pudding, and those require the fat to put into the pan, then heated in the oven before the batter is added. Get that stuff smoking (seriously), then pour in batter - Quickly!- then bake.

Yorkshire puddings have long been a staple in our house (my Dad makes the bestest EVAR!), and this method has never failed to produce delicious puffy puddings.

I make my own pie crusts. I put up my own preserves. I have, once, made puff pastry. This is just so it’s funnier that you know I can’t make rice. I had to buy one of the fancy Japanese fuzzy logic machines because I am a rice retard.

I’ve never personally made popovers, but Good Eats had a good episode about them. You may want to sit through this and this to learn the art and science of making popovers.

I can’t make plain white rice, and I had a Cajun sensei for about 20 years.

Yes. Yes I did, JimmyFlair. For the record I’ve also

[li]preheated the pan[/li][li]let the eggs and milk come to room temperature before mixing[/li][li]mixed just a little bit[/li][li]mixed a lot[/li][li]let the batter sit an hour before baking[/li][li]filled the muffin cups 2/3 full[/li][li]filled the muffin cups to the top[/li][/ul]

…and I blamed

[li]high altitude (Wyoming)[/li][li]low altitude (Seattle)[/li][li]air too damp (Seattle)[/li][li]air to dry (Arizona)[/li][li]crappy oven thermostat[/li][li]…and now, thanks to Shodan, I’m convinced it’s old eggs[/li][/ul]

Thanks, everyone. I’ll try these suggestions, but I hold little hope.

I can make popovers but I can never make good biscuits.

I can make popovers and biscuits. What I can’t make is stock. It tastes fine but never gels up at fridge temperature. I pulled that off once and have never been able to duplicate it.

Are you starting with cold water? AB’s explanation:

“From a distance, most bones look perfectly smooth, but if you come closer, closer, closer, you’ll see that they are actually pocked with a galaxy of pores. Now they may be small, but they’re not so small that hydrolyzed collagen cannot pass through into your stock. However, if you plunge this bone into boiling water, those proteins will coagulate, therefore plugging up these pores and keeping all the goodness trapped inside, which just wouldn’t be right. By starting with cold water, this travesty may be avoided.”

I didn’t know about the above explanation, but I’ve always started with cold water. Also, make sure you use enough bones, and it helps to crack or saw the bones. If it’s not gelling up, you’re not converting enough collagen into gelatin from the bones which either means the water bit above, you’re not using enough bones, you’re not simmering the stock long enough (not allowing the collagen->gelatin conversion process to complete), and/or you’re not reducing the stock nearly enough (too much liquid for the gelatin to properly gel it).

Oh, I can make it…just with 40% stuck to the pan afterwards.

Indian food. The saag paneer, it mocks me!

Pie crust is my bane. It mocks me, flashing it’s flaky goodness from other’s pie plates, only to flaten and turn to chewy leather in my own.

Skip the popovers and switch to puff pastry. Nearly the same result and I’ve never had it fail.

With regards to the pie crust, Cooks Illustrated has a version that uses vodka to make it a lot easier to roll out. The alcohol doesn’t activate the gluten like water does, so it rolls like a crust that’s going to be tough and leathery but bakes into a nice crust. Mine are still ugly, but they taste good now.

I make popovers about once a month. Popover tins are a must. When I make them in muffin cups, they don’t pop. So, buy a popover tin if you want popovers.
Here is the tried and true (AKA James Beard’s American Cookery, with different directions):
1 c milk
2 large eggs
1 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 T melted butter

In one bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. In another, sift together the flour and salt. Pour the wet into the dry, and stir until JUST combined. Lumps are OK. Add melted butter, and barely stir. Again, batter should be slightly lumpy, and just combined. Pour into 6 room-temp buttered popover tins. Cups end up b/n 1/2 and 3/4 full, if I remember correctly. Place in a cold oven set for 425. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Ideally, don’t open the oven door until at least 30 minutes in, and then only to see if they need another 5 minutes. If you constantly open the door to check on them, the drop in oven temp will make them fall. That’s it. With the popover tins, they’re pretty easy.
ETA: oh, and don’t let the batter sit - the air comes right out of it. Make it and bake it ASAP.

Chili con queso without processed cheese. I can’t escape the smooth-melting properties of Velveeta it seems.

I can make great pie crust, perfectly cooked rice, and fry a pan of eggs, perfectly, without breaking a single yolk. Only thing is, it took me 30 years of practice before I got a style down!

One thing I cannot do is make a good salad dressing. Maybe I’m just so used to bottled dressing, but no matter what kind of vinegar, or what proportions, or what other ingredients I put in, the end result is harsh, bad tasting, or otherwise disappointing. Also can’t make a beautiful feather light dinner roll like my auntie made. Mine are heavy blah wads of tastelessness.

My rice turns out well (I actually don’t like the way the rice cooker does it) and I’ve figured out how to hard-boil eggs without the yolks turning that unappetizing green. I still fail at homemade mashed potatoes, though.

That’s hot. God, I love that guy.

I can’t make omelets. This is OK with me, as I prefer scrambled eggs anyway. I will dump chopped onion, bell pepper, and ham in a skillet, cook them, and then pour scrambled eggs on top of them. After they’re scrambled, I top with grated cheese. I get my eggs cooked all the way through (most omelets I buy are not really cooked as much as I’d like them to be) and I get the goodies evenly distributed.